Protective order bill clears House unanimously

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A bill putting Maryland in line with other states when it comes to issuing protective orders is on its way to the governor's desk.

It's taken 18 years of bickering for lawmakers to agree to lower the burden of proof when a victim asks for a final peace order or protective order. This year, they are close to getting it done. 

In a news conference after the vote Thursday, Kathleen Dumais, vice-chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said legislators want to balance victims' rights with due process. But Maryland is the only state where victims must provide clear and convincing evidence of abuse in order to get long-term protective orders.

 “Today, we're one step closer to joining 49 other states and the District of Columbia, who use a fair, more reasonable standard of proof, going from clear and convincing to a preponderance of the evidence,” said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

Supporters said last year alone, 1,700 victims of abuse were denied protective orders because they could not prove clear and convincing evidence.

“Today's House votes move us forward in the fight against domestic violence,” said Del. Luis Simmons (D-Montgomery County), who has backed similar legislation for eight years.

“The passage of this legislation is a critical part of the comprehensive package of legislation to combat domestic violence and to protect the legitimate privacy interests of both Petitioners and Respondents in these proceedings. I am proud to have worked with advocates and lawmakers to craft legislation that will save lives.”

Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to sign the bill.  

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